Updated on 

April 8, 2022

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Bubble or Bump on Eyeball

What Does a Bubble or Bump on the Eye Look Like?

Most bumps (or bubbles) develop on the conjunctiva (the outer layer of the eye). However, the growth may differ in size, shape, and location depending on the underlying medical condition. Sometimes the bump is white, while others are yellowish. 

If you have any type of bump on your eye, visit an eye doctor as soon as possible. A comprehensive eye examination can help determine the cause of the bubble. 

Images of Bumps on Eyeballs (Warning: Medical Images)
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5 Potential Causes of Bubble on Eyeball

Pterygium

A wedge-shaped tissue growth on the conjunctiva, a pterygium first presents on the side of the eye. However, it can continue growing to reach the cornea, raise discomfort, and even cause vision problems. 

pterygium 1

More common names for pterygium include “surfer’s eye” or “farmer’s eye.” People who live in sunny, arid or dusty environments are more prone to pterygium.

Symptoms of a pterygium include:

Pinguecula

A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump that will mostly appear on the side of the eye nearest to the nose. It is a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium that develops from chronic irritation. 

Some common causes of pinguecula include:

  • The aging process 
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Dry eyes 

Symptoms of pinguecula include:

  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Dry or red eyes
  • Itching eyes
  • Tearing
  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Foreign body sensation (feeling like something is in your eye)
  • Blurred vision

Summary

Individuals who have a pinguecula can later develop a pterygium. In these cases, it can impair vision. 

Conjunctival Cyst (Clear Bubble) 

A conjunctival cyst is a sac that holds fluid or solid material. A conjunctival cyst is located on the conjunctiva (which borders the inside of the eyelid). 

Individuals who have this eye condition may experience some of the following accompanying symptoms:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Increased tear production 
  • Eye reddening 
  • Discomfort surrounding the eye 

Additionally, a conjunctival cyst can occur as a result of trauma or be present at birth. 

Noncancerous Tumor (Limbal Dermoid)

A limbal dermoid is also known as an epibulbar dermoid. It is a type of cyst found where the cornea and sclera meet.

This type of cyst is congenital, meaning it presents at birth. However, it can grow to more significant proportions and result in vision impairment. Children with this condition have developed astigmatism. 

This condition does not have any specific cause per se. However, it is usually associated with some ocular and systemic abnormalities, like:

  • Goldenhar syndrome
  • Duane’s syndrome 
  • Coloboma of the upper lid
  • Lacrimal stenosis

Conjunctival Tumor

A conjunctival tumor is malignant and often is classifiable as one of the following cancers:

Squamous cell carcinoma

This will be reddish or white and flat or elevated. This type of tumor typically does not metastasize. But it can extend into the eye orbit and sinuses and cause vision problems. 

Malignant melanoma

This type of tumor begins as a nevus (freckle) and is aggressive. Metastasis of cancer can occur, and the removal of the tumor will be necessary. An eye doctor will perform surgical removal, cryotherapy (freezing treatment), or provide special anti-cancer eye drops.  

Lymphoma

This salmon-colored lesion usually hides on the eye surface, beneath the eyelid.

It may indicate systemic lymphoma (affects the body) or only be present in the conjunctiva. To confirm if the mass is a lymphoma, the ophthalmologist will request a biopsy and work-up.  In cases where the problem does not extend further than the conjunctiva, external beam radiation is used. In all other cases, additional medication or chemotherapy will be necessary. 

Summary

A bubble or bump on the eyeball appears as a blister-like formation in any part of the eye. It may be caused by pterygium, pinguecula, conjunctival cyst, limbal dermoid, or conjunctival tumor. When a bubble or bump appears on your eyeball, see an eye doctor.

Risks of Eye Bubbles

An eye bubble carries a few risks. 

First and foremost, it may indicate malignant cancer, namely, a conjunctival tumor. If individuals do not seek proper treatment, cancer may spread to other parts of the body. 

Another risk associated with eye bubbles is vision impairment. For example, limbal dermoid cysts can become so big that they create astigmatism. This problem can worsen and even cause amblyopia (lazy eye). 

If individuals have a pinguecula and do not receive treatment, there is the risk of developing a pterygium. 

Diagnosis

If you have a bubble on your eyeball you should make an appointment with your eye doctor. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can usually diagnose the bump on the eyeball visually. However, they may need additional testing. They will ask you about:

  • Eye injuries or problems you've had
  • Your contact wearing habits (if you wear contact lenses)
  • Cosmetics use, eyelash extensions, and other products that could potentially irritate your eyes

Your eye doctor may take a biopsy in order to confirm their diagnosis.

Summary

Eye bubbles may be an indication of a serious eye disease that can lead to vision impairment. An ophthalmologist or optometrist will be able to properly diagnose the bump on your eyeball.

Treatment for Bubble on Eyeball

Treatment for bubbles on the eye will vary according to the underlying cause. It is important to seek medical advice and undergo an eye exam when irregular growth appears.

Home Remedies

For a pinguecula or pterygium, individuals are recommended to do the following:

  • Wear sunglasses or contact lenses that block ultraviolet light 
  • Use wraparound glasses, goggles, or other protective eyewear in dry, dusty conditions
  • Use artificial tears frequently to prevent dryness in arid conditions

For eyelid cysts, individuals are recommended to do the following:

  • Set a warm towel either on or close to the affected area of the eyelid 

Professional Treatment

In many cases, surgical removal may be the best option.

Pterygium surgery does not mean that a pterygium will not return. The recurrence rate falls between 30 and 40%. 

Other eye care treatment options include:

  • Steroid eye drops (for eye irritation, for example)
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroid injections
  • Medication
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Steroid eye drops (for eye irritation, for example)
  • Antibiotics
  • Steroid injections
  • Medication
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Summary

The best course of action for people with an eye bubble is to seek treatment from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. There are home remedies and professional treatments available to address the issue.

5 Cited Research Articles
  1. Boyd, Kierstan. “Pinguecula and Pterygium (Surfer's Eye) Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 29 Oct. 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/pinguecula-pterygium-diagnosis-treatment.
  2. Boyd, Kierstan. “Six Things To Know about Pinguecula and Pterygium.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 31 July 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/six-things-to-know-about-pinguecula-pterygium.
  3. “Eyelid Cyst Removal.” Drainage of Conjunctival Cyst, www.stjosephshospital.co.uk/treatments/specialities/ophthalmology/eyelid-cyst-removal/.
  4. “Limbal Dermoid.” Limbal Dermoid | Texas Children's Hospital, www.texaschildrens.org/departments/ophthalmology/conditions-we-treat/limbal-dermoid.
  5. “Ocular Oncology: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.” Bascom Palmer Eye Institute | University of Miami Health System, www.umiamihealth.org/en/bascom-palmer-eye-institute/specialties/ocular-oncology.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Anthony Armenta earned his B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, Irvine. After graduation, he decided to live abroad in Spain. Currently, he has spent the past 5 years working as a freelance health content writer and medical editor for different public hospitals in central Barcelona. He has covered different medical specialties from infectious diseases and pneumology to breast cancer and plastic surgery. His commitment to writing fact-driven, health-related content stems from the belief that such type of information can empower all individuals to take action and improve their health today.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/anthony/
Author: Anthony Armenta  | UPDATED April 8, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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